Lack Of Sponsorship To Force Spanish Cycling Club Euskaltel-Euskadi To Fold After Season
Spanish cycling team Euskaltel-Euskadi said in a statement that the team "is to close down at the end of the year after failing to find a second sponsor for the 2014 season," according to Mark Elkington of REUTERS. The news comes four days "before the start of the Tour of Spain," which sets out from Vilanova de Arousa in Galicia on Saturday. The statement said, "Euskaltel-Euskadi is unable to continue next season. It is a sad day for Euskaltel, for the team, for the current sponsors, for the fans and for everyone who has supported this project. We are sad that no company or entity has decided to back this team, the oldest in the world of elite cycling." The team said that Spanish cable operator Euskaltel had increased its long-running support from €3.5M ($4.7M) a year to €7M ($9.4M) for '13, out of an overall budget of €9M ($12M), but that it "could not maintain that level of backing." The team has "not been able to secure a second sponsor either locally or internationally to cover the shortfall for next year." Euskaltel's statement said, "From this moment on Euskaltel will start an orderly and responsible close down of the project including immediate negotiations to free up the members of the team" (REUTERS, 8/20). In Madrid, Jon Rivas reported "the news that had been suspected for more than a month became official on Tuesday." The team communicated to the Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) "that its athletes are now free to sign with other teams." Euskaltel, the cable operator, has contributed €45M "since the end of '97, when the Euskadi Foundation cycling team was facing a crisis" (EL MUNDO, 8/20). Also in Madrid, Alfonso Herrán reported the Euskadi Foundation, will "remain in use and the future could pass through this organization in the second division of cycling." Euskaltel "seemed to have reached the promise of support from two new shareholders, but could not raise the amount required for survival" (AS, 8/20). In London, John MacLeary wrote "the news will come as a bitter blow to Spanish cycling, and particularly the Basque region from where the Euskaltel-Euskadi team derive, just days ahead of the Vuelta a España" (TELEGRAPH, 8/20).